Winning Top Talent

Four Keys to Success from the Experts

By Matt Shore

In today’s competitive job market, simply making someone an offer hardly guarantees the person will take it. A company needs to inspire prospective candidates from the initial interaction all the way through the offer.

This is necessary for all employers, because candidates with high-demand skillsets typically have their pick of competitive offers. It is not uncommon even for desirable companies to have an attractive opportunity turned down multiple times, which ultimately costs the company both time and money.

Given these realities, consider these keys to success from the experts at the talent search and interim resources firm StevenDouglas:

Have a solid game plan: It’s important to develop a strategy when beginning your search for an important hire. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Foremost, you need to make sure there is internal alignment on the position: reporting structure, title, responsibilities, experience required, which employees will be part of the interview and hiring process, and the potential growth path of the role.

Invest time to develop a well-thought job description and have it reviewed by all stakeholders to assure that they are in agreement. This document will help alleviate miscommunication with candidates on expectations and also serves as an excellent source of accountability once they are on your team.

Diligence and market alignment: Employers often miss out on top talent simply by not understanding current market factors. After achieving alignment on the role, make sure your company is in line with the market and that you have budgeted the appropriate compensation package.

You can save time by knowing what it takes to attract top talent and focusing your process on candidates you can afford. Great candidates want great offers. The surest way to have an offer rejected is to lowball a candidate.

Run an inspiring interview process: Everyone can agree the process should determine whether candidates are qualified to do the job and have the DNA to be successful with the company. What employers sometimes lose sight of is the chance to leverage the process to inspire the prospect about the company, culture and opportunity.

Candidates go to interviews knowing they have only one chance to make a good first impression. Companies have only one chance, too. Treating candidates unprofessionally — such as having them wait in the lobby for lengthy times, not being available for a phone interview, or rescheduling several times — will leave a poor impression.

Companies can also leave candidates uninspired if they have the wrong people doing the interviews. Interviewers not only should have questions for the candidate, but they also should leave time to sell the company and opportunity to the prospect.

Your interview team should be enthusiastic and able to communicate what a great organization this is to work for. The interview process is a two-way street and you want a candidate to leave with excitement.

Even if you decide not to pursue them, treat them with respect and make sure someone closes the loop with them by thanking them for their investment of time. If you do these things, you will have made a fan who will have great things to say about the company.

Act with urgency: There’s a saying that “time kills all deals.” If a candidate is interviewing with your organization, he or she is likely interviewing with others. The best candidates are getting multiple offers simultaneously.

It’s important to capitalize on the momentum created during the interview process, and a decisive job offer is the best indicator of how committed you are to have this person join the team. If you wait too long, you run the risk of losing the candidate to another company. If you know what you are looking for and you find that person, act with urgency, make a great offer and close the deal.

Hopefully, you’re already using these strategies in your search for talent. If not, they’re the keys to success moving forward.

Matt Shore is president of StevenDouglas, which helps clients find top talent and candidates find new opportunities. Contact him at 954.385.8595 or

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